My Favorite Whole Wheat Bread: Bread Machine Version

A quick note: I love food blogs, but I don't plan for this to become one. I DO want this to be a place where you can find encouragement with some practical help mixed in. So when I find a recipe or tip that makes it a bit easier to get tasty food on the table and gather people around it, I'll pass it along!

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We took our first big family road trip this summer. We caravanned with Jonathan's parents, then met up with his sister and her family in southwest Colorado. We had a wonderful week camping together, but between getting ready for the trip, the drive there and back, and trying to get back to normal life afterward, it felt like our vacation ate up the whole month. It was completely worth it, but it’s hard to believe July is already over!     

After we returned from vacation, Jonathan and I gave ourselves the challenge of not buying any more groceries than we absolutely had to for the rest of the month. Consequently, I’ve been baking bread a lot more than usual. I found this recipe a couple of years ago, and it immediately became a favorite. It’s delicious and really easy--my favorite kind of recipe--but I wanted to see if I could make it even simpler by adapting it for my bread machine.

It took a couple of tries, but I’m really happy with the result. I wanted to share it with you, just in case you could use some super easy, bready deliciousness in your life.

But first, a few important notes:

This recipe works best in a large breadmaker. Check the owner's manual for your machine's capacity. The recipe is technically still a smidge too big for my bread machine. However, I like the easy-to-measure quantities, and I haven't noticed any ill effects aside from needing to give the sides of the pan a quick scrape as it's mixing. Break the rules with me at your own risk, though! :)

The order is a little different. Instead of following the typical ingredient order for breadmakers (wet, dry, then yeast), this recipe starts with a sponge mixture. This helps the yeast do its thing and results in one of the best quick-rise breads I've come across. Don't skip this step, and don't be too scared about breaking this piece of bread machine protocol.

The flour matters. I prefer using white whole wheat flour for this bread (and most things I bake).  It's still whole grain flour, but because it's made from hard white wheat rather than hard red wheat, it has a lighter flavor and texture than regular whole wheat flour. (Find a few more details about the differences here.) If you want a lighter loaf but only have regular whole wheat flour, use the whole wheat in the sponge and use all purpose flour for the remaining 2 cups.

Also, white whole wheat flour is not the same thing as whole wheat pastry flour. The textures of pastry and bread are essentially opposites. The former is supposed to be tender and flaky; the latter should have some chew. Adding the extra gluten in this recipe is NOT enough to offset the difference (ask me how I know--and why there's not yet a photo of a finished loaf in this post). 

Recipe

My Favorite Whole Wheat Bread: Bread Machine Version

WW Bread Machine.png

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 7/8 c. very warm water (120-130 degrees F)
  • 2 1/2 c. white whole wheat flour (See above for a note about flour substitutions.)
  • 1/4 c. vital wheat gluten
  • 1 TB instant/quick-rise yeast
  • 3/4 TB (or simply a scant TB) salt
  • 1/4 c. vegetable, canola, or coconut oil (if using coconut, be sure to melt and cool slightly)
  • 1/4 c. honey
  • 1 TB lemon juice
  • 2 c. white whole wheat flour

DIRECTIONS

  1. Warm breadmaker pan by filling it partway with very warm tap water. Exact temperature isn't important here. You simply want to make sure the cold pan doesn't cool your carefully-warmed water in the next step.
  2. Warm 1 7/8 c. water to between 120 and 130 degrees F.*  Empty bread machine pan. Then add measured water. Whisk in 2 1/2 c. flour, vital wheat gluten, and yeast. Cover with a kitchen towel and allow to rest for 10 minutes. 
  3. While the sponge mixture is resting, mix together oil, honey, lemon juice, and salt.  
  4. Pour oil mixture on top of sponge, add remaining 2 c. flour, and insert pan into bread machine. Choose "2 lb. Express" cycle, or your machine's equivalent (should be about 58 minutes), and press start.
  5. Check back in a few minutes, just in case you need to scrape down the sides. Then you're free to walk away and let the machine do its thing!   

* I simply adjust my faucet setting until the temperature feels right on my wrist--very warm but doesn't burn--but, if you prefer, you can heat in the microwave or on the stove and check with a thermometer.

Adapted from Five Heart Home’s The Very Best Homemade Whole Wheat Bread


Related Resources

If you're interested in converting your own favorite bread recipe to one that will work in a bread machine, check out this post on the King Arthur blog.

Just in case you're in the market for a bread machine of your own, I received this breadmaker for Christmas last year. I wasn't entirely sure I wanted to give up the cabinet space to store it, because I hadn't used my previous machine a ton before it broke. However! This guy has absolutely been earning his keep in my kitchen. Y'all, THE PAN IS DISHWASHER SAFE! And there's an extra paddle, which is really handy too.